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Integrated Organic and Water Quality Program (IOWP)

Exploring the changes in water quality associated with certified organic farming practices

Program Basics
The Integrated Organic and Water Quality Program (IOWP) is a competitive grants program whose purpose is to explore the changes in water quality and/or water quantity associated with certified organic farming practices. This program is a joint effort between the National Integrated Water Quality Program (NIWQP) and the Organic Transition Program (OTP), both of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

USDA is interested in funding comparisons between certified organic farms and traditional farms of sediment delivery, nutrient use and transport, and overall water availability at the farm or field scale. Availability (defined here as the joint consideration of water quality and quantity). Projects are expected to combine physical measurements of soil and surface and/or groundwater conditions at the field or farm scale with modeling information generated at the same spatial and temporal scale. We expect projects to demonstrate (using field and modeling information) benefits or challenges to soil and water availability posed by implementing certified organic practices.

Projects that explore the linkage between surface water and groundwater availability are encouraged. Successful projects must describe expected outcomes in terms of changes in knowledge, changes in behaviors, and changes in environmental conditions. All projects must identify the cause of water resource degradation. All projects are expected to develop and implement an evaluation plan that captures project outcomes and demonstrates the impact of the project through measured improvements in water resources and/or measurable behavior change.

Applications are being solicited for the IOWP under the following areas:

Project Examples
This is a new competitive grants program area, so there are no examples of previously funded projects.

Application and Financial Information
There is no commitment by USDA to fund any particular application or to make a specific number of awards. The IOWP considers Integrated Research, Education and Extension projects with a project period of 1 to 3 years and a budget not to exceed $220,000 per year. The program was funded at $1.8 million for Fiscal Year 2009 (FY09) and $5 million for FY10.

Eligibility, Uses, Restrictions
Colleges and universities are eligible to submit applications for the Integrated Organic and Water Quality Program. Applications also may be submitted by 1994 Land-Grant Institutions, Hispanic-serving Agricultural Colleges and Universities (HSACUs).

Cost Sharing or Matching
If a grant provides a particular benefit to a specific agricultural commodity, the grant recipient is required to provide funds awarded on a dollar-for-dollar basis from non-Federal sources with cash and/or in-kind contributions. NIFA may waive the matching funds requirement for a grant if NIFA determines that: (a) the results of the project, while of particular benefit to a specific agricultural commodity, are likely to be applicable to agricultural commodities generally; or (b) the project involves a minor commodity, the project deals with scientifically important research, and the grant recipient is unable to satisfy the matching funds requirement.


Dr. Michael P. O'Neill
National Program Leader for Water Quality; NIFA
Phone: (202) 205-5952

Dr. Mary Peet
National Program Leader for Organic Agriculture
Horticulture; NIFA
Phone: (202) 401-4202

Last Updated January 26, 2010

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